Zero-G News
Volume 14; Issue 82 ~ Zero-G News (ISSN 2333-7257) ~ A Publication Of Ares Institute, Inc.
Breaking News
Delta IV Lights Up The Night To Deliver Advanced Military Communications Satellite
Blazing a fiery trail in the sky above Cape...
Falcon 9 Lofts Commercial Satellite On Second Launch From LC-39A
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully orbited the EchoStar XXIII...
NASA Preps Cygnus For Third Flight On Atlas
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft is being prepped for it...
Booster Issue Delays Delta IV / WGS-9 Launch
United Launch Alliance announced this evening that the launch...
Atlas V Wins NASA’s JPSS-2 Launch Contract
NASA’s Launch Services Program has selected United Launch Alliance’s...
Atlas V Lofts NROL-79 For The National Reconnaissance Office
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a...
SpaceX Surprises With Planned Human Lunar Mission Announcement
Elon Musk is not someone who could be described...
Falcon 9 Soars On Historic Launch From KSC
Nearly five years after the final space shuttle mission...
NASA And NanoRacks Parter On First Commercial ISS Airlock
The International Space Station allows NASA to conduct cutting-edge...
NASA Langley Ozone Sensor Set for Launch to Space Station
Brooke Thornton has devoted eight years to a project...
NASA Sounding Rocket Successfully Launches into Alaskan Night
An experiment to measure nitric oxide in the polar...
Kennedy Space Center’s NASA Day of Remembrance Honors Fallen Astronauts
On Jan. 26, 2017, Kennedy Space Center employees and...
Atlas Begins 2017 With Successful Launch Of Missile Warning Satellite
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launched...
Falcon 9 Returns To Flight To Orbit Next-Generation Iridium Spacecraft
Four and a half months after a devastating explosion...
NASA Awards Contract for Series of CubeSat Technology Missions
NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program has selected Tyvak Nanosatellite...
SpaceX Falcon 9 / Iridium NEXT FAA Launch License
Comments What do you think?
NASA Orders Additional Commercial Crew Flights From Boeing, SpaceX
NASA took another big step to ensure reliable crew...
NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-ray Mysteries
NASA has selected a science mission that will allow...
SpaceX Pinpoints Cause Of Falcon 9 Explosion, Targets Launch Next Week
Four months after a massive fireball destroyed a Falcon...
Next-Generation Weather Satellite Successfully Launches On Atlas V
Perched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket,...
Antares Returns To Flight Carrying Critical Supplies For ISS
Orbital ATK successfully launched its Antares rocket carrying a...
NASA Prepares The Next-Generation Of Weather Satellite For Launch
On September 27, NASA offered members of the media...
Falcon 9 Accident Traced To Upper Stage Helium System Breach
(Editor’s Note: This is an update provided to Zero-G...
Orbital ATK Sets Target Window For Antares Return-To-Flight
Orbital ATK is targeting no earlier than Oct. 9-13,...
United Launch Alliance Announces CubeSat STEM Education Program Winners
United Launch Alliance (ULA) has selected four proposals from...
KSC Visitor Complex Destination: Mars Experience Offers A Virtual Reality Tour Of Mars
A walk on Mars may be in the future...
Emergency management: A behind the scenes look on the Eastern Range
Last week, the 45th Space Wing’s Incident Management Team...
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Begins Seven-Year Odyssey To Sample An Asteroid
Blazing a trail into the early evening sky, the...
Firing Up Rocket Engine Tests
A 100-pound liquid oxygen/liquid methane engine fires up after...
SpaceX Begins Test Fire Series On Landed Falcon 9 First Stage
Looking to re-launch one of their succeffully-landed Falcon 9...
NASA Orders Second Commercial Crew Dragon Mission From SpaceX
NASA took another important step Friday in returning U.S....
Atlas V Launches Classified Communications Relay Satellite For NRO
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying...
SpaceX Launches 9th Cargo Mission To ISS, Delivers Groundbreaking Science
Instruments to perform the first-ever DNA sequencing in space,...
Orbital ATK Conducts Final Qualification Test For Space Launch System Booster
A booster for the most powerful rocket in the...
Delta IV Blazes The Night Sky To Launch Clandestine Spy Satellite
Just five days after successfully orbiting the GPS IIF-12...
Final Block 2 GPS Satellite Launches On Atlas V
Continuing a record of perfect mission reliability, a United...
Falcon 9 Returns To Flight, Completes Historic First Earth Landing
Plummeting through the black sky above Cape Canaveral at...
SpaceX Targets December 19 Falcon 9 Return To Flight
Nearly six months after a space station resupply mission...
Cygnus Returns To Space Riding The Powerful Atlas Rocket
Space station cargo resupply missions from U.S. soil resumed...
Atlas V Successfully Launches Penultimate GPF IIF Series Spacecraft
Soaring through a crystal-clear autumn afternoon, a United Launch...
United Launch Alliance Marks 100th Launch With Morelos-3 Success
United Launch Alliance successfully launched its 100th mission today...
Atlas Successfully Deploys Fourth Mobile Comsat For U.S. Navy
Putting on a spectacular pre-sunrise light show, a United...
NASA Awards Grants For Transformative Space Technologies
NASA has selected eight university-led proposals to study innovative,...
Space Launch System RS-25 Main Engine Completes Key Full-Duration Test
Aerojet Rocketdyne has successfully completed a full duration (535...
Orbital ATK Updates Progress On ISS Cargo Delivery Program
Orbital ATK is on track to launch its next...
Orion Spacecraft Begins Critical Design Review Milestone
NASA’s Orion Program kicked off its critical design review...
NASA’s Space Launch System Passes Critical Design Review Milestone
You know the feeling of pride and achievement when...
Delta IV Launches High Capacity Digital WGS-7 Military Comsat
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket successfully...
Kennedy Space Center Opens New Small Vehicle Launch Complex
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida took another step...
Atlas Delivers Again With Newest Air Force GPS Satellite
The newest member of the the Air Force’s worldwide...
NASA Names First Four Commercial Crew Program Astronauts
As Boeing and SpaceX continue working toward the goal...
Video Feature: SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-7 Launch In Slow Motion
During this month’s launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9...
SpaceX Delays Crucial Test, Moves Crew Dragon Abort Test To KSC
Following the successful pad abort test in May, SpaceX...
First Falcon 9 Loss Leaves SpaceX Reeling, Challenges ISS Resupply Lines
Sunday’s loss of the 19th Falcon 9 rocket on...
NASA Launches Suborbital Rocket From Wallops With Student Experiments
NASA successfully launched a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding...
NASA Hosts Rocket Week at Wallops Flight Facility
Students and educators from across the country will have...
Atlas V Launches Secret X-37B Spaceplane And Novel Solar Sail Experiment
With help from NASA, a small research satellite to...
SpaceX Successfully Completes Crew Dragon PAd Abort Test
A loud whoosh, faint smoke trail and billowing parachutes...
Five Things To Know About Dragon’s Pad Abort Test
Crew Dragon’s first critical flight test, known as a...
Blue Origin Conducts First Test Flight Of New Shepard Suborbital Rocket
Secretive space startup Blue Origin achieved a significant milestone...
NASA Launches RockSat-X Sounding Rocket With University Payloads
A NASA Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital sounding rocket carrying the...
Falcon 9 Blasts Off With Cargo Supporting NASA’s One-Year Mission
Two tons of supplies and research cargo are headed...
Blue Origin Completes Acceptance Testing of New Shepard BE-3 Engine
Blue Origin recently completed acceptance testing of its BE‑3...
NASA’s Space Launch System to Boost Science with Secondary Payloads
When NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) launches on...
American And Russian Begin Yearlong Orbital Journey
ISS One-Year Mission Expedition 43 Soyuz TMA-16M Launch Coverage...
Delta IV Hits The Mark With Another Successful GPS Launch
Piercing a thick layer of clouds that hung low...
United Launch Alliance Lets The Public Name Its New Rocket
ULA is offering the public the opportunity to select...
SpaceX Clarifies Reason For TurkmenAlem52E Launch Delay
Over the weekend, SpaceX filled in some of the...
NASA Provides Space Access for University Developed Experiments during March 27 Flight
NASA will fly six university experiments developed by undergraduate...
Lockheed Martin Pitches Novel Concept For CRS-2 ISS Resupply
On May 10, 1869, Leland Stanford raised a hammer...
Aerojet Rocketdyne Gets Fired Up About 3D Printing
Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3d printing, has been...
ULA, SpaceX Go Head-To-Head At House Armed Services Cmte Hearing
United Launch Alliance (ULA) President and CEO Tory Bruno...
Technical Issues Prompt Falcon 9 Launch Delay For TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT
Technical problems with the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage...
Spectacular Launch Delivers MMS Probes To Study Magentic Reconnection
NASA’s first-of-its kind mission to study the violent interactions...
Paper: Launch Window Assessment For The MMS Mission
Comments What do you think?
Falcon Orbits Electric Satellites On Dual-Launch Milestone
Working to build a steady launch pace and shake...
Deep Space Falcon Launch Successfully Deploys NASA’s DSCOVR Climate Observatory
The second mission of 2015 for SpaceX’s Falcon 9...
NASA Selects Winning Student Designs Of 3-D Printed Tools For Astronauts
After three months of designing and modeling, a panel...
NASA’s New Horizons Returns First Photos Of Pluto, Charon As It Nears Encounter
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft returned its first new images...
“Old Reliable” Delta II Orbits First Of A Kind Soil Moisture Mapping Spacecraft
Blazing a trail through a cloudy California morning, a...
Planetary Society Announces LightSail Spacecraft Test Flight
The Planetary Society today announced the first of its...
Photo Gallery: Atlas V-551 Launches The Navy’s MUOS-3 Satellite
Comments What do you think?
SpaceX And US Air Force Agree To Settle Lawsuit
Just days after entering judge-ordered mediation, SpaceX and the...
First Full-Scale SLS Booster Installed On Stand For March Static Test
NASA and ATK have completed installing the first Space...
NASA Completes Investigation of 2014 Sounding Rocket Failure
January 12, 2015 – An investigation team has determined...
Atlas V Successfully Launches Navy’s “Orbital Cell Tower”
Marking the 200th launch for the venerable Atlas-Centaur family...
Photo Feature: Five Rockets Are On The Pad In Alaska
January 20, 2015 – Five rockets are on the...
Five Sounding Rockets To Study Effect of Solar Wind On The Weather
January 13, 2015 – The interaction of solar winds...
RS-25 Main Engine Testing Resumes At Stennis After Five-Year Hiatus
The new year is off to a hot start...
Falcon 9 Launches Fifth Contracted SpaceX ISS Mission; Booster Recovery Test Fails
A Falcon 9 rocket blasted into space early this...
Technical Glitches, Orbital Mechanics Push Falcon 9 CRS-5 Launch Into 2015
The next launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket...
Amid Testing Trouble, Firm Launch Date Expected Today For Falcon 9 CRS-5
We should learn today whether or not SpaceX will...
X Marks the Spot: Falcon 9 To Attempt Ocean Platform Landing
(Source: SpaceX) During our next flight, SpaceX will attempt...
Powerful Atlas Launches Clandestine Satellite From California
The largest Atlas rocket to fly from California blasted...
Atlas To The Rescue, Orbital Selects ULA To Launch Cygnus To ISS In 2015
As the company continues to recover from October’s spectacular...
NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Completes “Picture Perfect” First Test Flight
Reaching a pinnacle in its nine-year development program, NASA’s...
Inferno Over Wallops! A first-hand Photo And Video Account Of Antares Launch Failure
Read the story with a full page of launch...
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Readies New Round Of Test Flights
NASA’s Morpheus experimental rocket-powered vertical takeoff and landing testbed...
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Crashes, One Pilot Reported Killed
We have received word that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo failed...
Antares Explodes, ISS Cargo Lost In Launch Failure
Launch of the Cygnus spacecraft was supposed to be...
Atlas V Racks Up 50th Success With Launch of GPS IIF-8 For U.S. Air Force
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully...
Hurricane Gonzalo Delays NASA’s Latest Cargo Run To ISS
Already delayed several times, the launch of an Orbital...
Photo Feature: Melbourne Air & Space Show
“We are thrilled by the turnout on Saturday for...
JPL Selects CubeSat Proposals for Europa Clipper Mission Study
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has chosen...
Looking To The Future, Delta IV Rocket For Orion First Flight Reaches The Launch Pad
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket stands...
India, U.S. To Collaborate On Earth Obsevation, Mars Missions
In a meeting Tuesday in Toronto, NASA Administrator Charles...
Sierra Nevada Targets Air-Launch With Stratolaunch Partnership
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced a design for...
ATK Test Fires Igniter For Orion Launch Abort System Motor
NASA and ATK successfully completed a static test of...
Delta IV Processing Nearly Complete For Historic EFT-1 Mission
Engineers took another step forward in preparations for the...
Sierra Nevada Files Protest Challenging NASA Commercial Crew Awards To Boeing, SpaceX
(Editor’s Note: The following is a press release from...
Dragon Blasts Off With Science, Supplies On Fourth Space Station Cargo Run
Dodging persistent thunderstorms that have beseiged Florida most of...
NASA Opens Bidding For Second Round Of ISS Cargo Resupply Services
On the heels of awarding groundbreaking contracts to U.S....
United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin To Develop RD-180 Alternative
Facing pressure to find a domestic replacement for the...
SpaceX Breaks Ground For Texas Spaceport, With Just A Hint Of Politics
Gov. Rick Perry today helped break ground on the...
One More Leap, Boeing And SpaceX Win NASA’s Commercial Crew Contracts
U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from...
NASA Rolls Out First Orion Spacecraft For December EFT-1 Test Flight
NASA is making steady progress on its Orion spacecraft,...
Falcon 9 Successfully Delivers AsiaSat 6 Comsat To Orbit
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered into orbit during...
Acoustic Tests Help NASA Model SLS Launch Dynamics
Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,...
SLS Passes Milestone And Receives NASA Approval For Development
NASA officials Wednesday announced they have completed a rigorous...
SpaceX Falcon 9R Rocket Explodes During Texas Test Flight
SpaceX experienced a rare but disappointing failure today when...
Amazing Photo Captures Cygnus’ Flaming Re-Entry
ISS Expedition 40 crewmember Alexander Gerst captured this amazing...
Dramatic Video Shows Falcon First Stage Powered Descent After Launch
When SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket from...
On Its Way To A Fiery Re-Entry, Orbital’s Cygnus Departs ISS
Orbital Sciences Cygnus commercial cargo craft completed a month-long...
Atlas Rocket Orbits WorldView-3 Commercial Imaging Satellite
Continuing a very successful year for United Launch Alliance,...
ULA Names Tory Bruno President And CEO; Michael Gass Retires
United Launch Alliance named veteran aerospace industry executive Tory...
NASA Releases High-Definition Onboard Video From LDSD “Flying Saucer” Test
NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project successfully flew a...
NASA To Create First 3D-Printed Space Cameras
By the end of September, NASA aerospace engineer Jason...
Final European Automated Transfer Vehicle Blasts Off On Ariane 5 To Resupply ISS
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) fifth and final Automated...
Delta IV Dodges Weather To Launch GSSAT Spacecraft On Fifth Try
After nearly a week of frustrating technical and then...
Delta II Returns To Service To Launch NASA’s First Carbon Monitoring Spacecraft
Following a one-day delay to fix a balky water...
Success For NASA’s Experimental Supersonic “Flying Saucer”
NASA officials are calling today’s near-space test flight of...
2014 NASA Advanced Technology Phase I Concepts Selected For Study
NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase...
Projects Selected For NASA’s 2015 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge
NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation have selected...
Orion Stacking Operations Begin For December EFT-1 Launch
With just six months until its first trip to...
Engine Failure Investigation Slips Next Cygnus ISS Resupply Mission Into July
Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that it has updated its...
NASA Video Highlights Orion, SLS Development Progress
This is NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate quarterly update...
NASA Uses Laser To Beam “Hello, World!” Video From ISS
NASA successfully beamed a high-definition video 260 miles from...
NASA’s Final Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Report Released
With two companies now providing commercial cargo launch services...
Orion Receives Heat Shield For Late 2014 EFT-1 Test Flight
Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers attach the heat shield...
Photo Feature: Meet The SpaceX Dragon V2 Spacecraft
SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk unveiled the Dragon...
NASA Readies Futuristic “Flying Saucer” For Flight Over Hawaii
UPDATE: Due to weather conditions, there will be no...
SpaceX Unveils Next-Generation Manned Dragon Spacecraft
With just a bit of Hollywood-esque flash, SpaceX unveiled...
Atlas V Successfully Deploys Classified NROL-33 Satellite
While the battle between SpaceX and United Launch Alliance...
Photo Feature: The Powerful Atlas Rocket Ready To Launch NROL-33
  Comments What do you think?
Delta IV Launches Sixth Upgraded GPS Satellite
America’s newest Global Positioning System satellite is now in...
Orbital And ATK Announce Merger Continuing Industry Consolidation
Orbital Sciences Corporation today announced that it has entered...
New Spacecraft Will Become First U.S. Space Lifeboat in 40 Years
The next generation of American spacecraft designed to carry...
NASA Partnerships Launch Multi-User Spaceport
Teamed with its industry partners, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center...
NASA Outlines Future Path To Human Mars Exploration
I will join 11 senior NASA officials in a...
Dragon Begins Third ISS Resupply Mission; First Stage Recovery Test Success
  A GoPro Captures Launch Of A SpaceX Falcon...
Atlas V Successfully Deploys Classified NROL-67 Satellite
. United Launch Alliance successfully launched the second mission...
Morpheus Completes First Test Of Hazard Avoidance System
The Morpheus team successfully completed Free Flight 10 (FF10)...
NASA’s LRO Mission and North America to Experience Total Lunar Eclipse
When people in North America look up at the...
Orion Avionics System Ready For Exploration Flight Test-1
Testing of the Orion spacecraft’s avionics system has concluded...
Space Launch System Core Stage Model ‘Sounds’ Off for Testing
A 5-percent scale model of the Space Launch System...
NASA Selects New Suborbital Technology Payloads
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected 13 space technology...
Air Force Weather Satellite Successfully Deployed On ULA’s 80th Launch
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully...
Soyuz Blasts Off To Orbit Europe’s Sentinel-1A Earth Oservation Satellite
Continuing their track record for delivering both commercial and...
Air Force Releases Details Of Incident That Scrubbed Atlas And Falcon Launches
In the wake of serious outage on the U.S....
Orion Integration Makes Progress Toward Late-Year EFT-1 Mission
Orion is marching ever closer to its first trip...
Atlas 5 Rocket Launches To Successfully Deploy NASA’s Newest TDRS Satellite
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket thundered into...
Dragon Passes Another Milestone With Sucessful Parachute Drop Test Over Pacific Ocean
Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration...
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Soars Over Kennedy Space Center As Tests Continue
NASA’s Morpheus lander testbed resumed testing following a break...
2013 NASA Safety Report Highlights Funding Uncertainty, Commercial Crew Progress
The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), an advisory committee...
NASA, Commercial Crew Partners Look To Make Strides In 2014
Several companies, working closely with NASA, ended 2013 with...
Space Launch System Could Enable Transformational Missions, Scientists Say
The human spaceflight community joined the space science community...
NASA Administrator Visits Michoud, Tours SLS Facilities
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Monday visited the agency’s Michoud...
Florida Schools Send Experiments To ISS On Board Orbital’s Cygnus
When Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus cargo ship arrived at...
Cygnus Arrives At ISS With Supplies, Experiments
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station Sunday used a...
Virgin Galactic Reaches New Heights in Third Supersonic Test Flight‏
Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, which is...
SpaceX Manifest Grows With JCSAT 14 Launch Contract
Fresh off its second successful launch of a commercial...
NASA, White House Discuss ISS Life Extension At International Space Exploration Forum
Speaking at a global space exploration forum Thursday, John...
NASA Powers Up SLS Avionics For The First Time
The modern avionics system that will guide NASA’s Space...
Antares Blasts Off With Cygnus On First Contracted ISS Resupply Mission
Marking the beginning of regular supply runs to the...
Antares Set For Chilly Launch To Space Station
1/8/14 7:00 am EST UPDATE: Early this morning the...
SpaceX Rings In The New Year With Launch Of Thai Satellite
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape...
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Poised For First Launch Of New Year
Looking to start 2014 with a roar, SpaceX is...
Photo Feature: NASA Readies TDRS-L Spacecraft For Late January Launch
NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-L was the...
Boeing Announces Expansion Of X-37B Operations At Kennedy Space Center
In what could be a boon for the aerospace...
SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch Of Thaicom 6, Remains Confident Of January Liftoff
Bird-watchers on the beaches of Cape Canaveral will have...
NASA’s Resurrected Infrared Telescope Captures First Images, Prepares To Hunt Asteroids
NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), a...
NASA’s Next Mars Lander Gets A Launch Vehicle
NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial,...
Dreamchaser Completes NASA Commercial Crew Milestones
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced that the company...
Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Launch Abort Engine Testing for Boeing CST-100 Spacecraft
Aerojet Rocketdyne announced today that it completed development testing...
Balky Station Cooling Pump Creates Delay, Uncertainty For Cygnus Resupply Mission
NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. Saturday moved the targeted...
SpaceX Gains Advantage Over Blue Origin In Fight For Former Shuttle Launch Pad
Government Accountability Office denies Blue Origin’s protest over fairness...
Cygnus Joins Antares For Second Space Station Supply Run
On December 10, Orbital Sciences Corporation’s operations team mated...
NASA’s Juno Photographs Spectacular Views Of Earth And Moon During Flyby
When NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew past Earth on Oct....
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Returns To Flight At Kennedy Space Center
Rebuilt and better than ever, NASA’s Morpheus prototype lander...
Proton Notches Another Success With Launch Of Inmarsat-5 F1
An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton Breeze M successfully...
Atlas V Lofts Top-Secret Satellite, 12 CubeSats For NASA And Education
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a...
SpaceX Reaches Milestone With Falcon 9 Launch Of Commercial Satellite
Making its commercial debut, an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket...
Blue Origin Test-Fires New BE-3 Rocket Engine
NASA commercial crew partner Blue Origin of Kent, Wash.,...
China Successfully Launches First Lunar Lander Chang’e 3
A Long March 3B rocket blasted off from the...
SpaceX Targets Thanksgiving For Inaugural Falcon 9 GTO Mission
SpaceX is hoping for a special Thanksgiving after the...
NASA’s MAVEN Rockets To Explore Mysteries Of Mars Atmosphere
 With a thunderous roar, NASA’s Mars Atmoshere and Volatile...
Today In History, November 10, 1964 – KSC Mercury Monument Dedication
The Mercury Monument stands outside of Complex 14 was...
Dream Chaser And Role Of The Media On Public Perception Of Failure
Last week, Sierra Nevada conducted the first free-flight test...
Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser Suffers Setback During First Free Flight Test
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) suffered an apparent setback of...
Proton Rocket Successfully Launches FM-6 Satellite For Sirius XM Radio
International Launch Services (ILS), a leader in providing mission...
This LADEE Wasn’t Just Eating Bon Bon’s During The Government Shutdown
During the NASA shutdown, the LADEE mission continued to...
Proton Set To Launch Comsat For Sirius XM After 24-Hour Delay
The launch of a Proton launch vehicle with the...
Dramatic Video Captures Grasshopper’s Highest Jump To Date
On Monday, October 7th, Grasshopper completed its highest leap...
The View From Here: Curiosity Looks Back At Home
The HiRISE instrument would make a great backyard telescope...
SpaceX Releases New Photos And Video Of Next-Gen Falcon 9 Demo
SpaceX released stunning new photos and video from the...
MAVEN Granted Reprieve, Preparations Resume For November Launch
The cloud of pessimism over NASA because of funding...
Second-Generation Falcon Takes Flight To Test New Engines, Recoverability
Equipped with upgraded engines, computer systems and greatly improved...
Curiosity Fails To Find Methane And Adds To The Mystery Of Life On Mars
Data from NASA’s Curiosity rover has revealed the Martian...
Historic Comet Hunting Mission Ends As Deep Impact Falls Silent
After almost 9 years in space that included an...
Orbital’s Antares Blasts Off On First Cygnus Mission To ISS
Marking a giant stride forward in NASA’s plans to...
On Its 40th Mission, Atlas Deploys Third Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite
Dodging rain and high winds, an Atlas V rocket...
Moon Express’ Guidance Software Flies NASA’s Mighty Eagle On A Successful Test
The Mighty Eagle, a NASA robotic prototype lander managed...
To Boldly Go… Voyager 1 Reaches For The Stars
There was a time over a generation ago when...
NASA’s Lunar Dust Explorer Blasts Off From Virginia Spaceport
UPDATE: NASA has confirmed that the reaction wheels of...
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Conducts Second Powered Test Flight
Suborbital passenger spaceflight pioneer Virgin Galactic passed another major...
NASA Narrows List Of Potential Sites For Next Mars Lander
NASA has narrowed to four the number of potential...
STS-3 Space Shuttle Columbia Photo And Video Collection
Former NASA astronaut Gordon Fullerton passed away this week....
It’s Been 20 Years Since The First Flight Of DC-X
It’s been 20 years since the remarkable DC-X Delta...
NASA Prepares LADEE for First Virginia Coast Launch to Moon
In an attempt to answer prevailing questions about our...
Sierra Nevada Makes Second Successful Dream Chaser Captive-Carry Test Flight
NASA partner Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colo.,...
NASA Releases New Graphic and Video Depictions of Asteroid Mission
NASA released Thursday new photos and video animations depicting...
NASA Astronaut Candidate Class Of 2013 Introduced To The Public
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday formally welcomed the...
NASA Wallops Launch Facility To Host A Moon Mission Celebration August 21
The upcoming moon mission at the NASA Wallops Flight...
NASA Seeks Users For Shuttle Era Launch Structures
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is seeking concepts...
NASA Selects Technology Demonstration Projects for Suborbital Research Flights
NASA has selected for possible flight demonstration 10 proposals...
NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Completes Orbit and Entry Review
NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner Space Exploration Technologies...
NASA Adds Milestones To Commercial Crew Initiative, Funds SpaceX, Sierra Nevada
NASA announced Thursday it is adding some additional milestones...
NASA Launches Suborbital RockSat-X Mission With Student Payloads
A Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital rocket carrying experiments developed by...
Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Sixth Wideband Global Satcom Military Satellite
Blazing through the evening skies over Florida, a United...
Japanese Resupply Craft HTV-4 Is Captured And Berthed To ISS
The fourth Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency H-II Transfer Vehicle,...
Progress 52 Resupply Ship Docks With ISS
The ISS Progress 52 resupply ship docked with the...
ULA Completes Five Major Milestones In Just Eight Days, Including One Launch
During the last eight days, the United Launch Alliance...
One Special Day in the Life of Planet Earth Shining Brightly In The Black Void
Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two...
Atlas V 551 Launches Its Heaviest Payload Yet, MUOS-2 For The U.S. Navy
Rattling windows as it pierced cloudy skies above Cape...
Photo/Video Feature: 38 Years Ago, The Mission Of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
The first international partnership in space wasn’t the International...
Eastern Range (ER) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Spaceport Concept
Introduction:  This concept explores the Eastern Range (ER) and...
Stephen Hawking – “Why Go To Space?” – NASA 50th Anniversary Lecture
MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome to the  campus of George...
Watch Out NASA, The Next Mission To The Moon Might Not Be Yours
In 1959, the author Martin Caidin (“Marooned”) wrote, “The...
Space Shuttle Atlantis Grand Opening
NASA’s retired space shuttle Atlantis, the last orbiter to...
NASA Announces New Grand Challenge Aimed At Finding Asteroids
WASHINGTON, DC – NASA announced Tuesday a Grand Challenge...
Educational CubeSat Demonstrations Take To The Skies Aboard Prospector Rocket
Four tiny spacecraft soared over the California desert June...
NASA’s Space Launch System (Finally) Enters Preliminary Design Review
NASA is beginning a preliminary design review for its...
Mars As You’ve Never Seen It Before In A BILLION Pixels!
PASADENA, CA. – A billion-pixel view from the surface...
NASA Commercial Crew Partner Boeing Completes New Spacecraft, Rocket Milestones
HOUSTON, TX – The Boeing Company of Houston, a...
Another American High Frontier First: 3-D Manufacturing In Space
WASHINGTON, DC – In preparation for a future where...
Data From NASA Rover’s Voyage to Mars Aids Planning
PASADENA, CA – Measurements taken by NASA’s Mars Science...
NASA’s GRAIL Mission Solves Mystery of Moon’s Surface Gravity
PASADENA, CA – NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory...
Pebbly Rocks Testify to Old Streambed on Mars
PASADENA, CA – Detailed analysis and review have borne...
NASA Radar Reveals Asteroid Has Its Own Moon
PASADENA, CA – A sequence of radar images of...
Cassini Finds Hints of Activity at Saturn Moon Dione
PASADENA, CA – From a distance, most of the...
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Launch of the Cygnus spacecraft was supposed to be the start of the third of Orbital Science Corporation’s eight NASA-contracted resupply missions to the International Space Station. Instead, Orbital and NASA are left picking up this pieces today after the company’s Antares rocket erupted into a roiling ball of fire after liftoff that consumed the vehicle and its launch pad, leaving stunned observers young and old shaken and in shocked disbelief.

Check out photos from launch day at Wallops Flight Facility below or on Flickr from Staff Potographer Alex Polimeni

“It is far too early to know the details of what happened,” said Mr. Frank Culbertson, Orbital’s Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Advanced Programs Group.“As we begin to gather information, our primary concern lies with the ongoing safety and security of those involved in our response and recovery operations. We will conduct a thorough investigation immediately to determine the cause of this failure and what steps can be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident. As soon as we understand the cause we will begin the necessary work to return to flight to support our customers and the nation’s space program.”

Early analysis points to trouble within the rocket’s first stage propulsion system which is powered by twin Aerojet AJ-26 engines. The AJ-26’s are refurbished Russian NK-33 engines originally built in the 1960’s for the N-1 launch vehicle, the Soviet Union’s attempt at a counterpart to NASA’s Saturn V during the race to land humans on the Moon. The N-1 first stage failed in all three of its launch attempts and caused significant loss of life and resources and cost the USSR the Moon Race.

Loss of the Orb-3 mission cast a pall of uncertainty over the future of Orbital’s Antares launch vehicle as well as adding significant challenges for the company still under contract with NASA to deliver another five Cygnus cargo craft to the space station over the next three years.

After the mishap, NASA officials were quick to emphasize that the International Space Station is not at risk of facing a supply shortage or a reduction in crew size.

“While NASA is disappointed that Orbital Sciences’ third contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station was not successful today, we will continue to move forward toward the next attempt once we fully understand today’s mishap,” said William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate. “The crew of the International Space Station is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies.”

“Orbital has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first two missions to the station earlier this year, and we know they can replicate that success. Launching rockets is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our work to expand our already successful capability to launch cargo from American shores to the International Space Station.”

Download high resolution copies of the photos above from our Flickr Album!

Antares was originally scheduled to launch on October 27, but was delayed 24 hours by a sailboat the strayed into the launch hazard zone. Repeated attempts to hail the boat, even using aircraft to buzz it at low altitude, failed to raise a response from the occupants, who had presumably turned their radio off and were unaware of the impending launch.

After the “boatergate” incident, as it briefly became known on social media, the rocket was de-tanked and preparations made for a second attempt. As during the previous day, Antares breezed through the countdown with no technical issues. The only concern was a different kind of breeze, vigorous upper-level winds that threatened to exceed acceptable limits.

However, right on time at 6:22 pm EDT, the Antares Aerojet AJ-26 powered first stage thundered to life, lofting Orbital’s third Commercial Resupply Services mission into the evening sky on its terrifyingly brief flight.

Armageddon Over The Island

According to video analysis and telemetry, approximately 8 seconds after launch, a liquid oxygen turbopump on the rocket’s north-side engine failed, sending a stream of dark brown kerosene-rich exhaust pouring down on the launch pad. Seconds later, the bottom of the rocket blew apart, sending debris flying through the air as Antares paused in the sky, then fell back to Earth.

One of Antares' first stage engine turbopumps failed, dooming the rocket to a fiery death. Photo Credit: Matthew Travis / Zero-G News

One of Antares’ first stage engine turbopumps failed, dooming the rocket to a fiery death. Photo Credit: Matthew Travis / Zero-G News

Before it impacted the ground, Wallops’ Range Safety Officer triggered the Flight Termination System to ensure the rocket, potentially with one first stage engine and an undamaged, armed solid fuel second stage, would not pose a danger to the public who were watching from as close as less than two miles away.

Antares smashed itself back onto the launch complex, mere feet to the north of where it lifted off seconds earlier, and erupted into a massive ball of flame and debris. Almost too fast for observers to realize what had happened, a terrifyingly loud blast concussion rolled over the press and public viewing areas as safety personnel rushed to evacuate those areas in case toxic fumes drifted their way.

Less than twenty seconds after launch, it was over.

All that remained of Orb-3 was flaming debris, bits of payload scattered about the area and surrounding beach, and the hollowed out, scorched shell of Cygnus, which landed upright (or upside down) in a pit next to the impact point feet from the liquid oxygen tank farm. A giant 30-40 foot wide crater marked the rocket’s explosion literally right next to its launch pad. The pad itself appeared to have narrowly escaped being destroyed.

Fire and security personnel rushed to the scene, but with damage limited to the immediate area around the launch complex and thousands of gallons of burning kerosene fuel, the decision was made to let the fires burn out overnight.

At the time of writing this article, a secure zone has been established and access prohibited until emergency workers determine the area is safe to enter. An aerial survey will provide the first detailed views of the battered launch complex.

(Editor’s Note: The following is an update posted by Orbital this morning after the aerial survey )

“Early this morning, range officials performed an aerial survey of the launch facilities and surrounding areas at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility where yesterday’s failure of the Antares rocket occurred after it lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A. Shortly after, a team of representatives from NASA, MARS and Orbital entered the launch site to perform a preliminary assessment of the launch complex and related facilities. The overall findings indicate the major elements of the launch complex infrastructure, such as the pad and fuel tanks, avoided serious damage, although some repairs will be necessary. However, until the facility is inspected in greater detail in the coming days, the full extent of necessary repairs or how long they will take to accomplish will not be known.”

“NASA has posted aerial views of the launch pad taken earlier today here.”

An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket Oct. 28. Image Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach

An aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities taken by the Wallops Incident Response Team Oct. 29 following the failed launch attempt of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket Oct. 28. Image Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach

“Also today, Orbital made progress forming a permanent Accident Investigation Board (AIB) comprised of company officials, along with representatives from NASA and the NTSB, with the FAA providing overall oversight of the process. Initially, Mr. Rich Straka, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Manager of Orbital’s Launch Systems Group, served as the interim chairman to begin the investigation process immediately after the launch mishap. Today, Orbital appointed Mr. Dave Steffy, Senior Vice President and Chief Engineer of the company’s Advanced Programs Group, a highly experienced engineer well-versed in launch vehicle engineering and operations, to serve as the permanent chairman of the AIB.”

The Cursed Engine

While it is too soon to issue a blanket condemnation of the 40 year-old Russian-built NK-33 engines which Aerojet refurbished, certified and christened the AJ-26, it would be remiss to leave out mention of the NK-33’s troubled past.

NK-33 was originally developed for the Soviet Union’s secret N1 rocket in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. The N1 was the Soviet answer to the American Saturn V and their hope to beat the United States in landing people on the Moon first.

From the outset, troubles plagued the NK-33. The engine uses a highly-advanced “closed-loop” oxygen combustion cycle that heats up liquid oxygen oxidizer and uses it to drive the powerplant’s turbopumps. The heated oxygen is then cycled back into the engine for combustion. Closed-loop cycle is so advanced, and difficult to perfect, that von Braun and his team discarded it as an option and, in fact, no American rocket engine manufacturer has ever attempted to build a large liquid propellant engine using this scheme.

However, the efficiency of a closed-loop cycle engine can be 30% higher than a conventional engine of the same size. This was essential for the Soviet designers because while the U.S. had the capability to manufacture the massive 1.5 million pound F-1 engine for the Saturn V, the USSR had no capability to build engines of that scale.

Their only option was to cluster many smaller engines and make the engines as efficient as possible. In fact, the NK-33 was the most efficient hydrocarbon (kerosene) burning liquid fuel engine ever developed until SpaceX developed the Merlin.

The NK-33 had only one fundamental problem: it kept blowing up.

The thermal stresses of the close-loop design proved to be insurmountable. Three test launches of the rocket were attempted. The first exploded immediately after liftoff and none reached first stage shutdown. The turbopumps kept flying apart. Debris fouled the systems and essentially, the engine was too much for the engineers to control.

Fast-forward 40 years. The AJ-26 has improved systems, including pumps. It is an upgraded version of the NK-33 that utilizes modern processes, metals and computer-aided design. The cursed engine had supposedly been tamed.

And then pumps started coming apart. In one test earlier this year, an AJ-26 came apart on the test stand at Stennis Space Center. In the words of an official at Orbital, the pump “flew apart”.

After an intensive investigation, Aerojet was unable to determine the root cause of the failure. Absent a “smoking gun”, they thoroughly inspected the engines used on the ill-fated Orb-3 launch and declared that they appeared to be in good shape.

Appearances seem to have been deceiving, which leaves Orbital and Aerojet with a multi-million dollar loss and wondering what the future holds for Antares and its allegedly cursed engine.

Payloads and Dreams Lost

Orbital’s third contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to ISS was to deliver almost 5,000 pounds of science and research, crew supplies, vehicle hardware and spacewalk tools to the orbital complex and its crew. The scientific investigations carried by Cygnus were designed to enable the first space-based observations of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere, help determine how blood flows from the brain to the heart in the absence of gravity and investigate the impact of space travel on both the human immune system and an individual’s microbiome, the collection of microbes that live in and on the human body. In December, after more than a month at ISS and loaded with 3,000 pounds of rubbish, the space station crew would have unberthed it from the Harmony module for a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

A number of secondary payloads and 18 cubesats were also part of Cygnus’ manifest. Of note, the spacecraft carried a group of 18 student-led investigations, collectively part of the Yankee Clipper suite of research under the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). The studies would have investigated a range of topics from a crystal growth study that will enable students to learn more about how fluids act and form into crystals in the absence of gravity to how microgravity affect milk spoilage. Yankee Clipper is the eighth flight opportunity associated with the SSEP, an initiative of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education in partnership with NanoRacks.

Instead of scientific learning, Antares dramatic explosion left the students, shaken and many in tears, to learn a life lesson in disappointment and failure when everything had seemed to be going right.

Spaceflight Is Not “Routine”

Orb-3 was planned as a fairly standard ISS cargo run Antares was to have launched Cygnus into orbit in a nine and half minute ascent from Pad 0A at Wallops Island. After separation from Antares, Cygnus would deploy its solar arrays and prepare its propulsion system for maneuvers. Thruster firings would then increase its altitude, moving closer to the space station. Diuring a nominal mission, the Cygnus team conducts a series of tests to ensure the spacecraft’s readiness for rendezvous and berthing with the space station.

On Flight Day 2, Cygnus would move closer to orbital laboratory, eventually loitering at the same altitude as the space station, 1,000 to 2,000 kilometers behind it. Finally, on November 2, NASA would have hopefully provided a “go” for Cygnus to berth with the station. After approach to within 39.4 feet of the station, Cygnus would have been commanded to “free drift” by the astronauts aboard the station, captured by the robotic arm and subsequently attached to the station. On December 2, Cygnus would be released from the station and after additional free-flying investigations of its capabilities, would fire its thrusters one last time to send it hurtling back into the atmosphere and a flaming destruction.

Antares is the largest launch vehicle in Orbital Sciences’ fleet. It is also the first large liquid fuel rocket to fly from Wallops Island. Antares is a two-stage launch vehicle consisting of a liquid-fueled liquid Oxygen/refined kerosene first stage powered by two Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ26 engines. The second stage is an ATK CASTOR 30XL solid motor. Antares employs a 32.5 ft. (9.9 meter) fairing to protect Cygnus from atmospheric heating as it accelerates through Earth’s atmosphere.

Antares is capable of supporting mid-inclination and polar orbiting spacecraft weighing up to approximately 13,500 lb. (6123 kg) and 5,500 lb. (2495 kg), respectively. The standard range of orbital inclination from the Virginia launch site is 38 to 60 degrees, which makes it as effective as Kennedy Space Center for launches to the International Space Station which flies in an orbit inclined 51.6 degrees to Earth’s equator.

Cygnus is a free-flying spacecraft developed under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation program. The spacecraft consists of a Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) and a Service Module (SM). The PCM carries pressurized cargo and experiments to the space station and pressurized disposal cargo away from the station for destructive re-entry at the end of the mission. The SM provides power, propulsion, guidance, computation, and communications for Cygnus.

Developed by Thales Alenia of Turin, Italy, the PCM shares its heritage with numerous space station modules, including the Multipurpose Logistics Module, the Autonomous Transfer Vehicle, and Nodes 2 and 3. The Cargo Module is designed with two configurations. The standard configuration carries up to 4,409 lbs. (2,000 kg) of cargo while the enhanced variant will carry up to 5,952 lbs. (2,700 kg). The Orbital CRS-3 mission will use the standard configuration.

For on-orbit maneuvering, rendezvous operations and re-entry. Cygnus’ Service Module contains a dual-mode N2H4/MON-3 or N2H4, IHI Delta V engine generating 100 pounds of thrust and 32 Rocket Engine Assemblies (REAs) which provide 6 pounds of thrust, each.

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